My life seems to have become more and more frenetic in an attempt to complete outdoor projects before the fall rain and nasty weather begins. I feel a little like this native Douglas squirrel I watched last weekend. He was working like a maniac to store seed pods from the Big Leaf Maple while they’re still dry and sun-toasted.
As you can see, we have a long way to go in a few short weeks if we’re going to complete the exterior on our cabin without having to wear our rain suits. What you can’t see in this photo are the hundreds of salvaged shingles I’ve stained from the original cabin which will go on the loft or all the cedar board-and-batten for the main floor. But hey, on the interior, insulation is up and toilet is in – both huge improvements over last winter.
Meanwhile, my sadly neglected Seattle vegetable garden continues to produce a bumper crop of the most excellent green beans and plenty of pretty decent tomatoes. I even have a huge haul of potatoes grown in our compost heap with absolutely no effort on my part other than to dig them up.
Although I’m looking forward to a time this winter when cooking can become a more leisurely affair, right now I still want to eat well but if it’s too complicated or time consuming, I may as well forget about it. This week I got on a bit of a curry kick using vegetables from my garden and a few ingredients from the last Wallingford farmers market of the year.
Curry can be very complex and yes, you can even blend your own mixture of spices to create a delicious curry powder. If I were to make my own, I’d be tempted to try Heidi’s recipe at the beautiful 101 Cookbooks blog. This time, however, I was a cheater and used prepared curry powder with my garden vegetables and green curry paste for the eggplant and red pepper I bought at the farmers market. Fresh vegetables make all the difference in flavor if you’re taking these shortcuts.
Garden Vegetable Curry
Ingredients: 2 T olive oil/ 2-3 ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters/ Handful of green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces/ 5-6 small new potatoes, cut in half or quarters/ 4 oz. firm tofu, cut into cubes/ 1 onion, sliced/ 2 cloves garlic, minced/1″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced/ 1 can coconut milk/ 1-2 T curry powder/ Salt & pepper/ 1/2 t chili garlic sauce – the heat can be adjusted to your own taste
Directions: Heat oil in a large skillet/ Cook onions until soft and translucent/ Add garlic, ginger and curry powder and stir fry for a couple of minutes until aromatic/ Add tomatoes, green beans and potatoes along with the coconut milk/ Stir and let simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft/ Add tofu cubes and season with salt, pepper and chili sauce to taste. Serve over the rice of your choice. I used brown basmati rice.
Creamy Eggplant Curry
Ingredients: 3 T vegetable oil/ 1 eggplant (if it’s a mild variety, you can leave the skin on), cut into chunks/ 1 onion, sliced/ 1″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced/ 2 cloves garlic, minced/1 1/2 T prepared green chili paste, adjust to taste/ zest of 1 lime/ 1/2 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced/ 1 can coconut milk/ 1 t Asian fish sauce/ 1 t soy sauce
Directions: Heat 2 T oil in heavy skillet over medium-high heat/ Add the eggplant chunks and stir-fry until soft and starting to brown, add more oil if needed/ Remove eggplant and set aside/ Heat remaining T of oil in skillet and saute onions until soft and translucent/ Add garlic, ginger and green chili paste and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until aromatic/ Add coconut milk, lime zest, fish sauce and soy sauce to onion mixture/ Stir in cooked eggplant and red bell pepper slices/ Simmer to blend flavors/ Serve over rice noodles or rice.
Feel free to toss in other veggies or protein to either of these dishes. Fresh herbs like basil, Thai basil or cilantro would also be great. The curry sauce is there to bring it all together.
Don’t hurry, be happy!